Despite businesses asking employees to return to the office in recent years, the topic is still making headlines as owners balance work demands with staff needs. Hybrid working and hot desking are popular, with three quarters of UK businesses offering it (according to CIPD), which is why GTSE have shared their advice on clear desk policies.
A clear desk policy or CDP, is an initiative where employers and workers agree that all desks much be left “clear”. That is, clear of all paper or digital documentation, personal items and notes. The idea being to reduce business risk and create a safe environment.
Tom Armenante, director at GTSE discusses the benefits of CDPs, citing seven advantages.
One of the key drivers for CDPs is the need for better data protection, in line with GDPR best practice. By clearing away all documents, notes and information left on desks, there is less chance that sensitive information will fall in to the wrong hands. It’s not just employees who have access to your office space, there will be visiting clients, interviewees, tradespeople and cleaners. Poor data security could pose a huge risk to you, your clients and ultimately your financial success.
Walking into a clear workspace creates a great first impression for visitors. Staff, clients and stakeholders may perceive an office which is free from clutter as being more organised, professional and create a sense of pride in the workspace.
Going digital by removing the amount of paper documentation in your business or even going fully paperless has multiple benefits, helping to modernise processes. Digital documentation allows for better collaboration, particularly with remote and hybrid teams.
Paperless files can make finding the right document more efficient, giving employees quicker access to files, allowing them to spend time working on profitable tasks. Cloud based backups also give more security should physical items be lost or damaged.
In addition, there will be less need for physical storage in the office, less time spent shredding and less waste for recycling and landfill. Making it better for the environment too.
In addition, a clear desk policy can encourage hot desking as employees are less tied to a specific seat for document access or personal items. Hot desking can improve team cohesion and culture in many respects. It can help foster inclusivity, adaptability and creativity amongst your teams.
According to HSE, businesses must create a safe place of work for their employees and the public. A workspace which is clear of belongings and documentation provides a safer working environment by removing hazards. This not only includes reduced fire risk but, of slip and trip hazards too.
Additionally, clearer workspaces will undoubtedly have fewer germs as they can be cleaned more easily – helping keep your workforce healthy and in work.
As your business grows, there will be an increasing number of people coming in and out of the space. This makes it easier to lose personal belongings and work equipment by misplacing them, by other employees moving them, borrowing or even being taken intentionally. A CDP makes these things less likely, placing more responsibility on individuals to look after their own possessions.
The phrase ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ is popular for a reason and the same logic can be applied to workspaces. One study suggests that workers are able to work on average 7.5 minutes longer before losing focus when they have a clean desk, increasing productivity and persistence by 84%.
In addition to work-based benefits, the individual is likely to have greater mental stability, better sleep, reduced stress and are even more likely to make healthier choices when it comes to food.
Advising on how to implement a clear desk policy, expert Tom Armenante, director at GTSE said,
“Clear desk policies can have a real and positive impact for businesses. With the current trend towards hybrid workspaces and hot desking, it’s no wonder we’re seeing such policies.
Whether overseen by an office manager, CEO, operations department, security team or HR, businesses can easily and affordably make this change. Key ways to get started could be moving business documentation online, acquiring safe storage for private documents and personal belongings and importantly, ensure that loose wires are kept tidy using cable ties, baskets or sleeves.